La Bandita

Pienza, Tuscany, Italy Book from Eur250

A 21st-century reinvention of a Tuscan farmhouse, with light white spaces and modernist infinity pool overlooking a Val d’Orcia nature reserve
This place is a breath of fresh air - not just because it’s cooler and breezier up here on the hill above the Val d’Orcia. This is chic urban cool: cubes of clean white space, contemporary furniture (white wood, stainless steel), bold slabs of pure colour (cobalt blue, chilli-pepper, fired-earth). No frills, no clutter, no rough edges and not a hint of wrought iron.

The owner is New York escapee John Voigtmann (a big-shot music exec, he has worked with Christina Aguilera and the Strokes); the raw material was a barn-like house, part derelict, part cow-shed. A creative renovation involving a team of architects - notably Ab Rogers (son of Richard) - turned it into a stylish ‘country inn’ for high-flyers in the slow lane. The atmosphere is laid-back villa party, the design is cutting edge. But La Bandita is rural to its roots. A long dirt track away from the nearest town, its neighbours are farmers, sheep and crete senesi (the curious alluvial folds which helped give these chalk hills World Heritage status). The landscapes and the almighty views are unforgettable.

Highs

  • Clean, unfussy design in the 8 bedrooms - a complete departure from the familiar Tuscan farmhouse look
  • Amazing panoramas - an undulating carpet of green, gold and umber dotted with fortresses and faraway towns
  • All non-alcoholic drinks are included in the room rate
  • Stylish infinity pool plus outdoor Jacuzzi and canvas sunbeds
  • Fabulous sunsets and a glittering canopy of stars at night

Lows

  • The house feels a little isolated and you will need a car
  • The 3km of track leading up to the house, is bit of a challenge for anything other than a 4-wheel drive … take a deep breath
  • The sociable atmosphere may not be the best place for hideaway romantic couples, though the charmingly named Pig Sty Suite provides complete autonomy
  • It’s a little expensive, but you are in Tuscany

Best time to go

The summer heat can be unremitting in the dry Val d’Orcia, though La Bandita's hill-top location make it a good high-season choice. Go out of season for cooler weather and fewer tourists, in spring for lambs, and autumn for the wine harvest.

In mid April, the Festa della Fontana at nearby Panicale and Citta della Pieve sees a fountain flowing with wine.

Our top tips

La dolce farniente: cocktail in hand, watch the sun go down over the Val d’Orcia as the local farmers round up their sheep (the latter provide the milk for Pienza’s distinctive Pecorino cheese).

Great for...

Family
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 8
  • Breakfast (+ other meals on request)
  • All ages welcome.
  • Closed: 11 Nov 2015 - 30 Apr 2016...
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Steam Room
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room:

Rooms

White walls, crisp white linen, pale limestone floors; even the rustic beams-and-terracotta ceilings have been modernised with a mist of white paint. But this is not po-faced minimalism. Each light, white room, is jollied up with splashes of colour - red or green trims on white pillow-slips, for example; or textured walls of resin cement in deep shades (yellow for sunlight, blue for bathrooms, red for fireplaces). And there is natural colour too: squares of warm sunlight cast on pale surfaces, or picture windows that frame a true-blue sky, a perfect landscape.

La Bandita has 8 rooms: 7 in the in the main house (a Standard, 3 Deluxe and 3 Superior) and self-contained Pig Sty Suite in a converted outbuilding which also has a fully-equipped with a kitchen and a flexible living space - perfect for a family. They are all furnished in the same style with four-poster beds, extra-high ceilings and extra-large, walk-in showers. The Standard has twin beds; the Deluxe are much like the Superior, except they are larger, with an extra single bed, an in-room tub and waterfall steam showers.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Barbeque
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Dishwasher
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hairdryer
  • Honesty bar
  • Oven
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • Washing machine
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

There is no restaurant as such but resident Italian chef Dario Ferreri is on hand to rustle up lunch and a communal family-style dinner daily. On warm evenings, dinner is served at a long candlelit table under the pergola on the terrace. If you want a more intimate dinner, somewhere more private, just ask.

The food is pure Italian, and designed around fresh local produce. Lunch is usually pasta or a generous seasonal salad (fig, buffalo mozzarella and balsamic, served with lemon pasta and fresh basil). Typical dinner dishes include slow-roasted duck leg with grilled vegetables, or pan-seared Branzino with cherry tomatoes, clams, mussels and roasted fennel, followed by wild strawberries with frutta di bosco sorbet and candied mint. You can pick up a few cooking tips while watching Dario prepare the food in the open-plan kitchen.

Breakfast offers a healthy selection of whole-grain cereals (granola, muesli), seasonal fruit smoothies or fruit salads, yoghurt and, when it’s hot, iced lattes.

Guests in the Pig Sty suite can rustle up their own meals in a fully equipped kitchenette with fridge and hob. There are delis and a supermarket in Pienza.

If you want to eat out then head for Pienza (15-minutes drive) where there are several good, traditional trattoria.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Children meals
  • Cooking classes
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Organic produce
  • Oven
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Visit Pienza: A UNESCO Heritage site, this utopian Renaissance village (just 15 minutes drive away) has a wonderful collection of 15th - 16th century buildings, a charming piazza, the Gardens of Piccolomi, and narrow streets of touristy shops (Pecorino di Pienza a speciality)
  • Explore the area: Aside from the beautiful scenery of the Val d’Orcia, the hotel is within easy distance of the medieval hot springs at Bagno Vignoni, or southern Tuscany’s wine capitals, Montalcino and Montepulciano (both 25 minutes away)
  • Explore film set landscapes: chunks of Gladiator and Under the Tuscan Sun were filmed around here, Sant'Anna in Camprena, a medieval abbey near Pienza, provided scenes for The English Patient
  • Tuscany is dramatically beautiful, and is studded with lots to see and do. For a more comprehensive guide, check out our destination guide

      Activities on site or nearby include:

      • Birdwatching
      • Cooking classes
      • Cycling
      • Golf
      • Hiking
      • Horse-riding
      • Hot air ballooning
      • Private guided tours
      • Swimming
      • Yoga

Kids

Children are welcome and under 12 year olds eat for free; cots and extra beds are free. Your children will love this place - the sheep, the open space, the sense of freedom, the pool. Whether the cool, hip crowd that fetch up here will love your children is another matter.

Family friendly accommodation:

The Pig Sty Suite is a perfect family bolt-hole with its own kitchen and sofa-beds in the sitting room; there are also extra beds in the Deluxe rooms, which also have their own private terraces.

Babysitting:

Available by arrangement

Baby listening:

There are baby monitors to borrow

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cots and baby bedding available on request
  • High chairs
  • Plastic cutlery and crockery including sippy cups
  • Changing mat
  • Baby carrier
  • Soft toys
  • Books

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

The on-site chef can rustle up kids meals and can accommodate special requests. The honesty bar has juices for the kids

Kids Activities on site:

  • Swimming pool
  • Toys for babies and toddlers
  • Free cooking lessons
  • Books
  • Art materials and crayons
  • Pool toys
  • Gardens to explore
  • Board games in the library

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Cycle around the area
  • Country walks in the Nature Reserve
  • Playground in the local village

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
10/
Food
10/
Service
10/
Value
10/
Overall

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